The Chinese vertical scroll is read like a script from top to down. At the top edge of the scroll a semi-circle wooden stave is attached and is used for hanging up. A massive bar fixed at the bottom edge of the painting makes rolling up smoother and faster. The roller is often decorated with the precious materials. It also gives the picture some rigidity when hanging on the wall. The ways of hanging as well as the materials and decorations vary from one period to the other. Hanging scrolls are about fifty centimetres in width and up to three meters in length.
The form of the horizontal scroll offers greater opportunity to the artist since the extra pieces of silk or paper could be added while painting. The Chinese painters are not limited in space as the European ones. This is especially useful in painting of the mass scenes and landscapes. A horizontal scroll is composed of few scenes that are divided by the peaces of landscape, usually by a group of trees or mountains. The Chinese scroll has to be viewed from right to left and the viewed section should not exceed sixty centimeters at a time. The left hand unrolls the picture and the right one rolls it up. The beginning section of the scroll is usually left empty for the protective reason, the following section is meant for the title, and special sections of scroll serve as inscription panels. This particular way of reading influences the general composition of the painting. The hand scrolls were not meant to be permanently displayed.